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FAA proposes regulations for commercial drone and unmanned aircraft use

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) unveiled a proposed set of rules on Sunday for people flying small, unmanned aircrafts, including drones, for business purposes.

Earlier Sunday, the White House released a presidential directive that will require federal agencies to publicly report where they fly drones in the U.S., as well as what they do with their aerial surveillance data.

These rules are an important step in flight moving forward, given the fast growth of drone and similar flight technology.

Terry Atwood, a private pilot and sales associate at Rider’s Hobby Shop in Grand Rapids, said manufacturers are producing more unmanned aircraft models and fast and sales have increased in the past six months.

“It’s going to continue to grow, there’s no doubt about it," said Atwood.

With popularity growing for recreational automated flight, Atwood said the FAA is right on target for proposing a new set of rules.

“The unmanned aircraft industry is expanding greatly and this technology has the capability to dramatically change the way we use our nation’s air space,” said Michael Huerta, FAA administrator.

“We’re doing everything that we can to safely integrate these aircraft, while ensuring that America remains the leader in aviation safety and technology.”

The regulations would apply to unmanned aircraft under 55 pounds. Among the many proposed rules, the FAA would require the aircraft to stay in the user’s line of sight, fly below 500 feet and at 100 miles per hour or less, and permit use only during daylight.

And as far as the person flying the device, Huerta said they would not need a private pilot’s license. However, the operator must have an FAA unmanned aircraft operator certificate, which would be renewed every two years with a written test.

“This is fundamentally different than being a private pilot: A number of requirements that might pertain to being a private pilot simply don’t apply when you are flying an unmanned aircraft,” said Huerta.

“But what does apply is your ability to operate within air space with other aircraft. So that test is really focused in that area.”

Huerta said these rules are common sense, and they are working as fast as possible to finalize them.

“This is not the final word on the full scope of unmanned aircraft system operations: this is an extremely important step, but there will be, continue to be, other activities that will address this industry as it continues to evolve,” said Huerta.

Currently, to use unmanned aircraft for any commercial purpose, you must receive FAA approval. For more information on that process see this FAA link.

The FAA is asking for public comment on these proposed regulations during the next 60 days online. To comment, go to regulations.gov.


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